*Sue (*not her real name) was 63 when she left her violent marriage … a step the survivor says she should have taken decades earlier.
The grandmother and mother of two left her four bedroom Hills home with a swimming pool after calling quits on 40 years of degradation and fear. Now four years on she lives in a cosy two bedroom home and is still working full time to keep a roof over her head but considers herself lucky that she has found her independence and has a home.
Looking back she says when she fell in love and married her husband she did it to escape the life she was living at home
As the eldest of four children she felt she never belonged to the family and was pressured by her mum to leave school at the age of 14 1/2 because her mum told her she wasn’t bright enough to go any further.
She says she always felt put down at home and when she met somebody who she thought was kind and caring she married him.
They built a home, had children, ran a business and then he started putting her down. “If I didn’t tow the line I knew I was in trouble,” she says. “I would just walk on eggshells all the time as I didn’t want to get myself into trouble, he would put me down, he would throw things and would get very angry.
I’ve had bowls of cereal tipped on my head, glasses thrown at me. When I look back, I married to get out of the environment I had at home but then I got myself into the same sort of environment. I don’t think women should be put down and I don’t know why I put up with it for so long. I should have walked out earlier.”
Sue says she had several breakdowns because of the stress of her home life. She is now talking about her experience to show that the story can change and there is hope.
“I want people to see that you don’t have to put up with that kind of treatment. Women stay because they don’t feel that they can get out because they can’t get any help but I want women to know that there is help out there … you have a voice and people will listen. You can leave, you can come out strong and reach out to people for help. You can be empowered and you can shine.
It’s not good to be belittled all your life, I had it from my mother and I had it from my ex-husband. I was so frightened of him.Once your confidence and self-esteem is taken away you will never get it back.”
Her advice is: report your fears, put money aside where it can’t be found so you have something to fall back on. Reach out to people for support.